My problem with the ham-n-eggs fable

By | February 15, 2013

For those of you who don’t know the fable, it’s a conversation between a pig and a chicken regarding a potential business opportunity.

  • Chicken: “Pig, I was thinking that we should open a restaurant”
  • Pig: “Sounds interesting. What would we call it?”
  • Chicken: “How about Ham-n-Eggs?”
  • Pig: “Er… no thanks. I’d be committed but you’d merely be involved!”

As agilejedi.com explains: “On Agile projects the term Pig has come to describe all the developers, designers and testers who commit to the actual work. The term Chicken is applied to everyone else who make intellectual contributions but do not commit to any work.”

Firstly, I think it is not true. Everyone is a pig. Secondly, it should always be avoided.

Everyone’s a pig

Are you telling me that the Product Owner’s a chicken? Are you kidding me?! This role IS the business. If you’re working for a business that isn’t committed to being successful then you should get your trotters moving and get the hell out of there. If you’ve got a business analyst, project manager, stand-alone ScrumMaster, trust me, they are committed. We work as a team. Our successes and failures are done on a team level. Everyone who is involved should be a pig. If you’ve got a chicken in your team, wring its neck!

Why would you encourage a them & us situation?

I’ve never seen a ‘them and us’ situation produce anything but poison: resentment, irritation, frustration, etc. So why would you want to encourage this type of situation? Does it make you feel important to tell everyone you’re a pig and they’re merely a chicken? If so, you need to sort your ego issues out somewhere else.

In my teams, everyone is included, involved and committed: the devs, testers, UX and business analysts, ScrumMasters, programme managers, system managers, system architects, Product Owners … everyone who has any input. This is our ‘team’ and they are involved in everything we do. Yes, our PO participates in planning poker.

A Product Owner involved in planning poker – have you lost your mind?

Why not? Think about it: if the PO is contributing, you are getting another chance to find out that what he/she is expecting isn’t what you’re planning on building. If you all think it’s a 5-point story and he/she says it’s a 20, then there are questions that need to be asked.

Similarly, it’s a great opportunity for your PO to get a reality check. If you all think it’s a 20-pointer, but your PO estimated 2 points, then it gives him/her a chance to de-scope/drop that story.

It’s time to clean out the coop.

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